KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Religious police in Nigeria's northern city of Kano on Tuesday publicly paraded scores of people arrested for flouting Islamic law, including transvestites and people wearing clothing deemed too tight or revealing.
They also publicly shaved off the supposedly overly long hair of several men.
Mohammed Yusuf Yola, spokesman for the board that polices implementation of Shariah law, told The Associated Press that 45 men and women were detained at a birthday party in a hotel Sunday because of "indecent dress that is against the practice of Islam."
He said the recent arrests of 150 people, including 55 alleged prostitutes, is part of a new campaign to enforce Islamic law, which officially governs nine of Nigeria's 37 states. All those arrested were Muslims, Yola said.
"Our agency will not relent in its efforts to ensure compliance of Shariah legal system; the agency will do its best to make sure that society is free from all social vices," he said.
Extremists based in northeast Nigeria have killed hundreds of Muslims and Christians in a mission to turn the country, which has roughly equal numbers of both faiths, into an Islamic state.
The militants have also complained that governments of states under Islamic law do not enforce it vigorously.
Earlier this month Yola announced Islamic police would arrest young taxi drivers seen sporting cut-off pants and sleeveless T-shirts. None have been arrested so far because all have complied, he said.
The Islamic police in Kano previously had targeted women almost exclusively — arresting alleged prostitutes and those who do not cover their heads or who show their limbs.
Yola said the arrests made over the past week were the first to include men.
He said they had arrested about 500 women accused of prostitution this year, though it was not clear how many have been prosecuted.